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"− Ladies and gentlemen, in a few weeks’ time, between 4 and 7 June, the citizens of the European Union will elect the new European Parliament. For the first time 375 million people from all 27 Member States will be able to take part in the European elections together. Ladies and gentlemen, new Members will soon revitalise the work of Parliament. They will join those who are re-elected in June. I hope that we will continue to have the mutual respect that binds us across all political and national boundaries. In my work in the last two and a half years, I have been guided by a basic feeling for parliamentary work and I have you all to thank for your support, encouragement and counsel. The President is responsible for ensuring that all the rules of the European Parliament are followed and must ensure that these rules apply equally to all Members and are applied uniformly, and that the dignity of our Parliament remains intact. That is what I have striven for. I would like to say to those entering Parliament that we are only convincing if we preserve the dignity of the European Parliament and always defend it on the basis of our common laws. Today, very few resolutions are adopted in the European Union without the explicit consent and involvement of the European Parliament. To an increasing extent, the European Parliament has developed into the place where, crucially, political compromises are found at a European level. Evidence of this is the adoption of the Services Directive and the Chemicals Regulation, REACH, in recent years. For the 2007-2013 financial perspective, the codetermination of the European Parliament was groundbreaking. The European Parliament was instrumental in ensuring that the necessary funding was provided for programmes such as Erasmus to promote the young generation. Ladies and gentlemen, we have also placed tackling climate change at the top of the political agenda. The fact that we arrived at an acceptable result lent tremendous credence to the European Union for the negotiations at the Conference to be held in Copenhagen in December. Today, we are no longer alone in our endeavour; the new US administration led by President Barack Obama supports many of our proposals. Our task is now to win the hearts and minds of our global partners to support measures to combat climate change. One often hears that others are taking the lead in tackling climate change. We have taken the lead in tackling climate change and, ladies and gentlemen, it is something we can be proud of. Financial market reform at European level is, in many respects, taking place on the initiative of the European Parliament. Since 2002, Parliament has called for better financial market supervision and regulation. All legislative procedures for better banking and financial supervision and for regulating hedge funds and managers’ salaries should be completed as quickly as possible. The European Parliament has already set many important benchmarks as a result of the resolutions it has adopted. There is still a lot of work to do, however. The newly elected European Parliament must continue this work in a committed and resolute manner in order to find a way out of the crisis on the basis of the social market economy defined in the Treaty of Lisbon and to safeguard the competitiveness of the European economy for the benefit of society against a backdrop of globalisation. For many of you this will be your last week in Strasbourg. For me, too, this is the last week in which I will be allowed to chair the plenary part-sessions. Ladies and gentlemen, the overwhelming majority of Members see Parliament as the motor of the European unification process. In the last two and a half years we have revived debate on institutional reform and driven forward the process leading to the conclusion of the Treaty of Lisbon. We also succeeded in ensuring that the basic principles we have always represented are maintained in the Treaty of Lisbon. The Treaty of Lisbon contains the central reforms required to make the European institutions more democratic, transparent and capable of action. We should put all our effort into ensuring that the Treaty of Lisbon can enter into force at the beginning of next year. We are hoping for a positive outcome in the Czech Senate in Prague. Ladies and gentlemen, Parliament is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary as a directly elected democratic European Union institution. It is now at the heart of a European parliamentary democracy unimaginable in 1979. Together we have advanced parliamentary democracy in the European Union and beyond. The European Parliament and national parliaments are now partners. Our work is complementary. We have deepened our cooperation with national parliaments and held regular meetings to move the important current issues forward together. The development of our relations with parliaments in third countries has always been a core concern of all our efforts. Today, Parliament is a partner respected around the globe, an advocate for human rights and democracy. And it must stay that way. Ladies and gentlemen, I have made every effort to ensure that Parliament is represented, through its President and through representatives of the political groups, in bodies of importance for shaping our common future. The President of the European Parliament now participates in the annual meetings of the Heads of State or Government of the G8 and in summits with third countries, such as the EU-Africa Summit, the EU-Latin America Summit and the EU-US Summit. Tomorrow morning, I will participate in the Troika summit on employment and tomorrow afternoon in the Summit for the inauguration of the Eastern Partnership in Prague. It is also an achievement of this legislative period that the role of Parliament in the European Councils is no longer restricted to the inaugural address by the President. Now Parliament also participates in the institutional and constitutional deliberations of the summits. At the Intergovernmental Conference that led to agreement on the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament was fully involved at the level of the Heads of State or Government through the participation of its President and, at the Intergovernmental Conference itself, through a delegation consisting of three Members. This is a huge step forward. Ladies and gentlemen, the reform of the working methods and procedures of the European Parliament was and still is a major project. To this end, the Conference of Presidents set up a working group equipped with a detailed mandate, in which all Groups were represented. The work was completed successfully. Much – approximately 80% – of what was proposed by the working group has been put into effect and implemented. This includes the reorganisation of the plenary debates, the reform of the legislative process, the improvement of the work done in committee with enhanced cooperation between the committees as well as the possibility of legislative initiative reports or conflicting resolutions. I would specifically like to thank the Chair of the working group, Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, and her – our – colleagues for their special commitment. We all know that democracy gains strength through constant change. We do too. Together we have covered a good part of the way towards creating a forward-looking European Community. Together we have been able to achieve a great deal. Together we have succeeded in adapting the working methods of the European Parliament to changing political circumstances. Now we have modernised procedures and reorganised working methods at our disposal and that is a good basis for the work to be carried out in the new parliamentary term. In the Bureau of the European Parliament we have also tried to improve the administration of Parliament, to make the day-to-day work of Members easier and to modernise the infrastructure for communicating with the citizens of the European Union through the introduction of Web-TV, the prize for journalism the citizens’ prize and the European Charlemagne youth prize. The new Statute for Members, on which we have worked for many years, will come into force in the new legislative period. It is an important contribution to the policy on Members’ finances, transparency and public relations. The adoption of a clear, transparent assistants’ statute is an important step forward and a huge success, for which we have to thank all our fellow Members. Ladies and gentlemen, today I should like to repeat and reaffirm the central idea that, for me, sums up the work of European integration. We are committed to the dignity of every human being. It is the supreme value. It unites us in the community of shared values of the European Union. Human dignity must always be respected – it is the ethical answer to the moral crises in Europe’s past. For us, this leads to the precept of the unconditional protection of human dignity and the promotion of a dialogue of cultures, which have been guiding principles during my term of office. A lasting impact was made by the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, be it dialogue with the Euro­Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, encounters between young people of different faiths – including from Israel and Palestine – or the Arabic and African weeks held in the European Parliament. We have laid the foundation of a lasting dialogue, which must also direct, inspire and commit us in the future. We have been successful not only during the last two and a half years of my term of office but also in the term of office of my predecessor, Josep Borrell Fontelles. What we have achieved in the last five years has been achieved by all of us. A peaceful settlement in the Middle East is also important for peaceful coexistence between Christians, Jews and Muslims as well as the people of the European Union and of countries across the globe. Gaza and the West Bank are not in the back of beyond; they are on our doorstep on the Mediterranean. We must be more self assertive on the international scene and contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East. As Members of the European Parliament, we can offer an additional perspective in Middle East relations, as we can think and act outside conventional diplomatic channels. With this in mind, I have campaigned for a working group to be set up to deal with the Middle East crisis. Especially in the light of new developments in the Middle East it is important that we resolutely support a two-State solution – Israel within secure borders and a Palestinian State within secure borders. We must not allow these principles to be called into question. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say that, in our day-to-day work, we deal with many issues, sometimes relating to very specific circumstances. We should never forget our roots or lose sight of the values that bind us. Today’s free, peaceful and socially committed European Union was a long time in the making. We must breathe life into the foundations on which the European Union is based. That is why I am particularly thankful to you for your encouragement and continuing support for my initiative to establish a ‘House of European History’. In particular, I should like to thank not only Vice-President Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez for his unflagging support but also my fellow Members in this Chamber. The ‘House of European History’ will be used as a place where our European identity can be remembered and renewed. The basic decisions for establishing the House have already been taken. The constituent meetings of the two oversight bodies were held yesterday. With your support – if I am re­elected as a Member of the European Parliament on 7 June of course – I will devote myself to the task of ensuring that the ‘House of European History’ is completed by the end of the next legislative period in 2014. In 2014 we will be commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. A hundred years later we are living in a new Europe of peace, freedom and unity. Many people support us in our constant striving. In particular I thank all the committed staff in the administrative services of the European Parliament, especially our new Secretary-General, Klaus Welle, and his deputy, David Harley, without whose commitment, expertise and dedication our political work would not be possible. You are worthy of our thanks, our support and our appreciation. I extend my sincerest thanks to my personal staff in my Cabinet, but, above all, I thank you, fellow Members, especially the Bureau and the chairmen of the political groups, for your trustful cooperation. We have just had another meeting of the Conference of Presidents. On Monday evening we had a meeting of the Bureau, and we will have another meeting today. On substantive issues of European democracy, hardly any contentious, really controversial decisions were taken, and we agreed on the basic issues. A bond of trust was created, for which I am sincerely thankful. I would like to extend to you all my sincerest thanks for your commitment and for your passion for our common European cause. We have achieved a great deal together and we must once again gain the trust of our electorate. We do this, firmly convinced that this is the historically correct way towards European unification. The upcoming election campaign gives us the opportunity to speak with citizens about why the European Union is necessary. I should like to call on all citizens to vote in the elections and to cast their votes for the future of Europe in the 21st century. Much work awaits the newly elected Parliament. This includes helping to overcome the economic and financial crisis, implementing a European energy policy, moving to a low-CO economy, providing more security for the citizens of Europe and peace and stability across the globe. Our work has provided a good basis for the newly elected Parliament to build on. My work over the last two and a half years as President of the European Parliament has been a tremendous challenge, and I have carried it out gladly and with dedication and will continue to carry it out until 14 July. It is a great privilege to be at the service of Europe. I thank you most sincerely for placing your confidence in me and for every moment of this collaborative effort in working towards a unified Europe. I wish you all the best for the future. As the European Parliament, we are the directly elected representatives of the citizens of the European Union. Ladies and gentlemen, we all embody the rich diversity of our European continent and reflect, through our political families, the huge variety of convictions and attitudes. What is more, a few days ago we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the historic enlargement of the European Union, the reunification of our continent on the basis of our common values. In the words of our Berlin Declaration of 25 March 2007, ‘We, the citizens of the European Union, have united for the better’. The successful integration of Members from Member States joining the European Union in 2004 and 2007 and the adaptation of our parliamentary work to a European Parliament now bigger and more diverse rank among the most significant successes of this parliamentary term. We, the 785 Members of Parliament, have learned to meet each other half way, to learn from each other and to work better with each other. During this time, the European Parliament has gained in experience, strength and cultural richness."@en1

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